“I’ll always run for Denise, she’ll always be on my mind, I’ll always wear something to remember when she passed because she was such an incredible person,” said Chris Benyo.
When Chris Benyo and Denise DiMarzo met, they not only fell in love with each other, but also with running.
Six months after marrying, however, Denise was diagnosed with ALS. But together they decided that would not put their love of running to an end.
Denise died this year on July 23, after battling ALS for over five years. But in an effort to keep their dream of running ten marathons together by 2016 alive, Chris kept on running.
“The point was this isn’t about me, this was about Denise and keeping her spirit alive and it was something she wanted to do and I know she was there participating in whatever way she could even though she wasn’t there,” said Chris.
He recently completed the Chicago Marathon, pushing Denise’s jogger, and carrying with him her spirit.
“It was the hands down the best day and a half I had since Denise passed. I felt her presence certainly at the end when I was really hurting around 19.5 miles, I was like ‘this is weird this is really hurting,’ and for whatever reason when I hit mile 20 I was able to run all the way in and didn’t have any problems and it had to be her making sure I got in safely and that’s kind of what she would do, that’s how she rolls,” said Chris.
What’s become an easier journey physically has made it that much harder emotionally.
“She’s supposed to be there, you know that was the plan. We were going to do number nine in Chicago and number ten in Naperville and then probably we may not have run anymore after that because we all knew that her health was declining,” said Chris.
Chris will soon run that tenth marathon here in Naperville and will again push Denise’s jogger alongside him to help keep her memory alive.
“That’s the most important thing for me is to keep her memory alive because she’s such a good person and was just an inspiration to so many people,” said Chris.
The Naperville Marathon will be Chris’s 48th marathon run. The race takes place October 23.